Stepping Out of the Batter’s Box

We all have ticks of one form or another. I have one that I’ve done for years, but have become increasingly aware of it lately, perhaps because I’ve had more reason to do it. I call it “stepping out of the batter’s box.”

I’ll be browsing online and come across something involving me, that kind of blows me away. For example, yesterday I learned that my story “The Negative Impact of Climate Change on the Unusual Beasts of the World” was listed on Tangent Online’s Recommended Reading List for 2013. When I saw that, my tick kicked in:

I pushed my chair back from my desk, and in one smooth, Clark Kent-like motion, I stood and pulled off my reading glasses, setting them down on the desk. Then, with a grin on my face, I paced a circle around the room, smiled, and then sat back down, put my glasses back on, and returned to what I was doing.

This happens for all kinds of things. I did it a few years back when ThinkGeek retweeted a picture I’d posted. I do it when I get an email from a writer who I still think of as a major leaguer, even though I might know them as a friend. I do it when I get a critique back from a writer-friend that has particularly nice things to say about a story. I do it when I get an acceptance letter, and sometimes, when I get a personal rejection.

I did it just now when I saw Jack McDevitt posted a link to my review of his novel Starhawk on his Facebook fan page. It’s a bizarre little tick, but the more I think about it, the more I realize how frequently I do it.

Baseball fans will recognize at once why I call it “stepping out of the batter’s box.” I imagine to an outsider, it looks very much like when a batter fouls a ball off, or takes a strike, and then steps out of the box, walks in a small circle taking a few breaths and considering what pitch might be coming next; they might adjust their helmet or batting glove; and then they step right back in.

It’s strange, but I seem to have no control over it. I only seem to realize I’m doing it as I am sitting back down to continue whatever I was working on. I don’t think I could stop myself if I tried. Anyone else have strange ticks like that?


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